Idaho’s 2-1-1 CareLine is staffed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. MDT, to assist Idahoans seeking resources for free or low-cost services within their community. 2-1-1 agents can assist callers by referring them to resources such as rental assistance, energy assistance, medical assistance, food and clothing, child care resources, emergency shelter, and more.
On a normal day at work answering calls on the 2-1-1 CareLine, Erika Vasquez sits at her work station in one corner of an open plan room. She is happily surrounded by the chatter of her six CareLine colleagues as they take back-to-back phone calls from Idahoans reaching out for information, resources, and services.
The calls are as varied as the services that Idahoans need from the department and beyond. Callers may be reaching out for help paying for rent, utilities, food, clothing, or other basic essentials. Callers might be fellow DHW employees, looking for phone numbers for department programs. Callers from the public are often looking for services offered by programs outside the department, such as social security or unemployment benefits.
When it comes to services and information available to Idahoans, Erika and her team know a bit about everything. And while it may seem they can help with most questions, they do have their limits. “We do get calls asking for the phone number for Burger King, but we won’t give them that. We might suggest they look for it on Google or in the phone book,” says Erika.
These phone conversations are punctuated by quick chats among the CareLine team members. Any time any of them need anything, they shout out to each other and help each other out. Perhaps they are stumped by a question. Perhaps they’ve just had a difficult conversation with a caller who was emotional and in crisis. Erika and her colleagues work together like clockwork, and support each other through every work day.
On any given day at work, Erika and her six colleagues each take around 60 to 100 calls per day. While the average call is one minute and forty seconds, calls can range from just one minute, to over 20 minutes. The team stagger their working hours to keep the CareLine open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. MST. This way, the line is open during business hours for all Idahoans, whether they are calling from the north, on Pacific Time, or from the south, on Mountain Time. Continue reading “A Day in the Life of Erika Vasquez, 2-1-1 CareLine Agent”